Teaching Profession Opinion

Sustainability in K-12 Education

By AAEE — July 15, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is progress toward a sustainable economy, society and environment (environment, equity and economy).

Sustainability can be described as each of us doing our part to build the kind of world—economically, environmentally and socially—that we want to live in, and one that we want our children and grandchildren to inherit. It means becoming aware of all interconnections—visible and invisible—in which our day-to-day choices affect the intricate balance of social, economic and ecological systems.

The United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) introduced the far-reaching implications of the term, “sustainable,” in their widely cited report, Our Common Future (1987):

“Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable--to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
World Commission on Environment and Development, Brundtland Commission, “Our Common Future”

Why Sustainability in the classrooms?
Students have a chance to make a huge difference in this world. Teach them why change is necessary so their future sustainability behaviors will become the norm. Change is hard for most adults, but if students learn what they need to do to help create a healthy environment, economy and community, then it will be more natural as they mature. Yes, critical thinking skills are important, but change agent skills are necessary right now.

Teachers have the perfect opportunity to bring sustainability into the classroom and make it a school-wide vision and mission. No matter what subject you teach, there is a way to bring sustainability into your lessons. There are so many resources out there, and some are listed below.

Greening Schools
Teaching Sustainability in the Classroom
Sustainability Education Handbook: Resource Guide for K-12 Teachers
The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education
K-12 Education Sustainability Links
Kids for Saving Earth
All Academic: Strategic Planning to Support K-12 Sustainability Education
The US Partnership: K-12 Sustainability Resources
The International Schools Association - Education for Sustainability: A Curriculum Framework K-12
Walking the Talk: K-12 School Curriculum-Sustainability Education
Vermont Education for Sustainability
Citizenship: Workforce Readiness for K-12

The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.